Long before the huge box office success of the Spiderman movies, a very low budget film existed called Within the Woods. A short film meant to be the inspiration for potential investors in order to produce a future full length film. Low and behold the future full length film was produced and was titled The Evil Dead, terrible then and terrible now... but a classic was born. The two major men behind the success of this 1981 cult classic are the now very successful director Sam Raimi and quite possibly the all time greatest B-list movie star in history, Bruce Campbell.
How can you possibly pick one horror movie over the rest and call it a classic? Well, watch the Evil Dead and it's really not that hard. Considering that it was just another typical 'group of kids trying to escape some type of evil alone in the woods'ish type film (that was ever so popular in the 80's), The Evil Dead trumps its competitors tenfold.
What helps this film stand out is its uniqueness mixed with originality and a huge aspect of ridiculousness: all in; story, directing, lighting, acting, and dialogue. Once amateur director Sam Raimi shows off his true originality as a film maker and distinguishes himself from the rest through his aggressive shots, odd angels, unorthodox lighting, and hilarious situations and dialogue. His techniques effectively delivers an almost claustrophobic you're RIGHT THERE IN IT feel which stands out from other Hollywood directors. Skills he later brings to huge box office successes.
The story, eh... good, but whatever. In a nutshell, a group of kids rent a cabin alone in the woods accidently summon some evil spirits via The Necronomicon (Book of the Dead) and most of them die a gruesome death... but it's the deaths themselves that are so funny and stupid that you just have to love it. Take for instance the tree scene. It's so beyond ridiculous that it becomes classic. A girl gets brutally tortured and raped by a bunch of horny trees after deciding to walk alone through the wilderness (sounds gruesome and sadistic, but look at it from a different perspective). The scene is so beyond the realm of "out there" that you can't help to at least appreciate its creativeness. The ferocious killings that follow later in the movie are all as equally over the top. And let’s not forget about the film's main protagonist Ash (Bruce Campbell), quite possibly the greatest most ridiculous hero in horror cinema history.
The Evil Dead was originally turned down by all US distributors and banned in six countries. It was also one of the first films to receive a video nasty label rating as well (at the time not something to be so proud of). It's funny how times have changed though considering this 1981 $375,000 budgeted film has grossed over $30,000,000 and spawned two nearly equally successful sequels.
OK so some words of advice, if you ever decide to rent a cabin in the creepy wilderness from a professor who has been translating a book bound by human flesh and written in human blood, don't play the audio recording that goes with it. Because if you do you're probably going to summon some evil spirits and be forced to kill your friends... but that's just common sense right?